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Role of Social Change in Personal Development Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 9th, 2022


The research involved analysis of satisfaction, meeting life tasks and challenges and development effects of organizations. While the focus of the study was a 21-year-old female student, living in shared arrangement and partnered, it generally overlapped across 89 advanced psychology undergraduate students. The sample of study includes 24 men and 65 women. The age limits range from 18 to 30 years; the study population is additionally made up of 68.5% sample, partnered population constituting 30.4% of the population and the married constituting 1.1% of the population. Living arrangements are also considered in the research. The results indicated that the various aspects evaluated were largely affected by social factors including family and lifestyle while at the same time individual effect is largely expounded. In general, the research confirms the findings of other researches that link personal character development and influences to social, environmental and personal factors at differing levels.


Often cited as the transition period between childhood and adulthood, the youth is a delicate stage and subject to many problems (Salmela-Aro, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2007). Many problems are non-restricted to ethnic or religious groupings, but are general in occurrence. Most discussed problems include abuse of drugs, crime engagement, sexual challenges and poverty. However, other challenges have received little or no documentation at all despite their effect on the youths. Such include identity crisis, reduced confidence and self-esteem, lack of hope, moral issues confusion and ambiguity, media effect and educational competition.

Historically, transition involved transmission of beliefs, traditions and practices by the older population to the upcoming adults (Lerner, Lerner, Almerigi, & Theokas, 2005). The impact of socialization bodies including the family unit, religious institutions, among others largely dictated transition. Today, such impact is limited and new forces are known to influence individuals at the personal level. Such forces include the internet and the media. Personal development is intensely intricate with the development of one’s social being, one’s relations and cooperation are with others, one’s feelings of security and anxiety, one’s full range of emotions, one’s emotional connectedness and distances with others, and one’s conscious view of oneself and others. Transition stages are often easily identifiable in their development tasks, transitions in roles and the life situations they encounter. In early youth, individual life goals are more experimental than practical. Generally, with special focus on a 20-year-old Chinese Hong Kong, who will form part of a larger group of 89 advanced psychology undergraduate students.

Literature review

According to Lawrence (2006) cultural identity defines how persons view themselves and fit within their environments. A number of traditions have considered the relation of personal development to the formation of social, communicative, active selves. Among those in the phenomenological tradition leading to micro interactional sociology (Heritage), the soviet socio-cultural tradition which has spawned the more recent activity theory (Tanner, 2006)), the eighteenth-century Scottish moralist and dissident traditions (Smith and Priestley, for examples), leading to the foundations of modern liberalism, and the American pragmatist tradition. Understanding of healthy, positive, or optimal person dynamic functioning development or, alternatively, variations in functioning or development that are appropriate in categorization of personality, structure, function, and development. According to Lerner et al. (2005), such delineation of normative is of course a standard component of oenological requirements of any science, because deviations from nominal cannot be identified without such specification (Arnett, 2006). However, normative specification is problematic for scholarship about personality.

Sullivan adds to the Median picture the development of the anxiety system. This anxiety system defines areas within which the person operates comfortably and the areas of discomfort that make it difficult or even impossible to operate, as one expects and fears that one’s partner in the need satisfaction will become uncooperative. The perceived potential of social rupture evokes anxiety (Lawrence, 2006).

The self-system develops from affective states in which some behaviors feel more comfortable and secure while others feel anxious or uncanny or insurmountably aversive, no matter how strong the need impulse or attraction (Luria, 2002). We can begin to see socialized behavior as a kind of tropism, where one is drawn to anticipated satisfaction and repelled by feared disruption of social bonds (Brian, 2009). The anticipation and fear grow as much from one’s history of interactions, including the highly powerful early interactions with first caregivers, as from a realistic assessment of the current circumstances (Mead, 2007). In this pull of needs and desires and push of aversions, one finds a way to act, although the conflict of these forces may at times make it difficult or even impossible to find a satisfying solution, so that one has to abandon either the need or the security.

The Eriksonian themes of biology, individual psychology, and social surroundings as ingredients of ego identity appear now in a somewhat different proportional mix compared with those responses of the younger (11-to 14-year-old) age group discussed in the preceding chapter. By age 15 to l6, the rate of biological change for both genders is declining, and changing physique no longer appears as a preoccupation in defining oneself. Biology and the physiological capacities of the individual, nevertheless, remain a cornerstone not only of one’s sense of gender identity but also of the more general capabilities of individuals themselves. Many of these teenagers will, by now, begin the identity formation process described by Erikson (1968) and will be struggling to find some optimal balance between Identity Versus Role Confusion Lawrence, Dodds, & Brooker, 2010). In addition, mid-adolescents continue renegotiating family relationships and focus attention more fully on the peer group and the beginnings of one-to-One love relationships, experimenting with expressions of sexuality, considering potential vocations, and moving toward greater participation in community roles (Lawrence & Dodds, 2007).Contemporary researchers acknowledge that reasonable accounts of exchanges between young adulthood and their social life perspectives are only achievable through tracking of multilevel changes in absorption of energies of individuals and institutions at large (Lawrence & Dodds, 2007).

The achievement of salient social developmental tasks constitutes key criteria by which children are judged in society, by others, and by themselves (Levinson, 1996). Failure in these tasks could portend negative consequences for children’s perceptions or judgments of themselves or others that lead to increased externalizing or internalizing symptoms over time (Lawrence, 2003). Cicchetti and Schneider-Rosen (1986) theorized that failure to master social and emotional (and cognitive) tasks creates vulnerabilities for future failures and depression (Lawrence, 2008). In addition, Cole’s (1990, 1991) competency-based model of depression proposed that feedback from others (parents, peers, and teachers) across different domains of performance (including social competence) affects self-image and subsequently depressive symptoms (Lawrence, 2008). Cross-sectional and longitudinal connections between social competence and internalizing behaviors from childhood to adolescence abound in the literature (Kroger, 2007).

Research methodology

Research Participants

The research is based on 89 advanced undergraduate students. The mean age of the population was 21.21 years old and the sample consisted of 24 men and 65 women. However, the age limits were restricted to between 18 and 30 years old. The partnering arrangement was different with singles constituting 68.5% of the samples of study, partnered sample constituting 30.4% of the population and the married constituting 1.1% of the population. Another interplaying factor was the participants living arrangements with 49.4% residing with parents, 27.0% living in shared houses, 12.4% alone, and 11.2% with partners. The research data sheets provide the students with a type in space to describe their culture rather than fitting them to pre-defined categories as usually done.


A computer software, life as a young adult was adopted in measurement of young person’s developmental experiences, whereby five sections of developmental experiences. In developing life maps, the 12 study life elements formed the basis for conceptual maps formation. A 4-point Likert scale was used in evaluating the overall satisfaction ranging from very dissatisfied to very ‘satisfied’. Similarly a 3-point Likert scale was adopted for 12 developmental elements ranging from ‘not applicable’ to ‘mostly satisfied.’ In assessment of Meeting life tasks and challenges, twenty-two DTs rating of participants was done on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘not applicable’ to ‘fully applicable.’


The procedure for conducting this research h involved initial individual assessment of the program to enhance understanding of its functionality. This paved way for assessment of participants’ responses. However prior to such assessment, I individually met my participant and explained to her the functionality of the program. The program presented five analytical sections. However, for purposes of this paper, only three sections were analyzed. These include satisfaction, Developmental Influences on Life Organization, and goal structures (goals, obstacles, and strategies).

Satisfaction aspects involved evaluation of three aspects namely

  1. Satisfaction with Life Overall
  2. Satisfaction with the Elements of Life
  3. Relationship between Location and Satisfaction

In evaluating Developmental Influences on Life Organization, to code, students were asked to identify any influences on the organization of their lives. They typed in their statements about their influences, in response to the question: “What in your life experience has influenced the organization of your life now?” Again, the student data form the basis for coding your participant’s responses to this question. We coded the students’ open-ended identifications of influences using 11 coding categories. There were 202 separate mentions made by 89 students.

In evaluating ‘meeting life’s tasks and challenges, the following aspects were considered

  1. Preparing the Data – Reverse Five Negative Developmental Tasks
  2. Developmental Task Scale
  3. Developmental Task Scale Ratings for men and Women Students



Overall satisfaction returned no differences between men and women whereby for 24 men (M = 2.13, SD = 0.45) while 65 women (M = 2.02, SD = 0.57). The responses obtained ranged from 0 = “very unsatisfied” = 1.1%; 1 = “mostly unsatisfied” = 9.0%; 2 = “mostly satisfied” = 74.2%; 3 = “very satisfied” = 15.7%.

Elemental satisfaction showed variations in student ratings. Satisfaction was based on twelve life elements and the results are tabulated in the table below

Satisfaction with the Twelve Elements of the Life Structure Diagrams for Eighty Nine Students

Element Mostly Satisfied Mostly Unsatisfied Not Applicable
Friends 92.1% 7.9 0.0
Family 85.4 14.6 0.0
Lifestyle 89.9 10.1 0.0
Health 76.4 20.2 3.4
Study 71.9 28.1 0.0
Sport and Leisure 71.9 22.5 5.6
Travel 61.8 31.5 6.7
Exercise and Gym 55.1 38.2 6.7
Romantic relationship 52.8 32.6 14.6
Career Choices 51.7 32.6 15.7
Current Job 48.3 19.1 32.6
Religion 42.7 3.4 53.9

Most satisfaction levels were recorded with friends, family and lifestyle. However some levels of dissatisfaction were also recorded for the same, that is, 7.9%, 14.6% and 10.1% respectively.

Meeting life tasks and challenges

In meeting tasks and life challenges three developmental scale ratings were generally applied and the results are as summarized. A more detailed table is provided in the appendix.

Men and Women’s Mean Scale Scores for Three Developmental Scales

Gender Group
Men (24) Women (65) Total (89)
Personal development 2.35 (0.58) 2.49 (0.52) 2.45 (0.54)
Social development 2.95 (0.69) 3.03 (0.64) 3.01 (0.65)
Family Planning 1.74 (0.71) 1.81 (0.81) 1.79 (0.78)

Developmental Influences on Life Organization

The attached table below was developed to highlight the influence sources on the organization.

Percentage of Eleven Sources of Influence on the Organization of Their Lives Mentioned by Eighty Nine Students

Influence Coding rules and examples Freq (%)
Family Influences of specific family members, relationships with family, family events, or family upbringing. e.g., “My family” “My parents” “A loving family” “My upbringing” 43 (21.3%)
Friends Influences of friends or acquaintances, relationships with friends or acquaintances, and making or losing friendships. Including relationships in general other than family relationships. e.g., “My friends” “close friends” “people I know”. 28 (13.9)
Personal Includes personal attributes, aspirations, interests, and experiences. Also includes influences of health, mental health and personal values, morals. e.g., “My desire to …” “My personality…” “My health…” “My wellbeing”. 31 (15.3)
Romantic relationships Influences of a specific current, future, or past romantic partner, and relationships, e.g. “my boyfriend”, “my ex”, “looking for a romantic relationship”. Also includes planning a family with a partner. 17 (8.4)
Studies Influences that refer to study, education, or a course, e.g., “In my last year of study”, “my studies”, “my school”. Not including being accepted into Uni (see experiences). (NB if traveling specifically to study overseas, we coded one study and also one travel) 17 (8.4)
Travel & Location Influences of moving house, moving out of the family home, moving city, moving to Australia, traveling overseas, e.g. “moving around a lot”, “traveling around the world”, “coming to Melbourne” (NB if traveling specifically to study overseas, we coded one study and also one travel) 16 (7.9)
Career & Job choices Coded as choices about careers and career paths (or uncertainty), or mentions about a current or previous job. 15 (7.4)
Education pathways Includes specific mentions of decisions or uncertainty about study and educational pathways. Does not include “being at uni” or “my studies (see “Studies”) E.g., “deciding to go back to study” “changing courses”. 11 (5.4)
Culture Specific mention of cultural and community background, values, different from the family background. Also includes mentions of SES background, community resources, and financial situations. E.g. “Norms and values”, “growing up in a poor neighborhood”. 10 (5.0)
Sport and
Influences refer to sporting experiences and involvement, and interests in and taking up fitness 8 (4.0)
Religion Faith, spirituality, religion, God 6 (3.0)


While overall satisfaction records cross-cuttingly similar results for both genres and minimal standard deviations are recorded, the same cannot be said with regard to elemental satisfaction there is a big deal of general elemental satisfaction with friends, family and lifestyle. These values decline in satisfaction with health, and subsequently in study, sports and leisure and further down to religion. Generally, it may be said the things that an individual encounters in everyday life including family, friends and lifestyle exhibit higher satisfaction levels.

In the section for meeting life tasks and challenges, this paper confirms some of the arguments earlier put forth by researchers on personal development. Social development and personal development record high levels of mean scores as compared to family planning. However, the role of social development seems to far surpass that of personal development factors as shown by the mean scores. It re-asserts the pragmatist picture developed by Sullivan where individual development is a product of a series of life interactions. The Freudian analytic school sees much of personality and the rest of life as deeply fettered by the earliest sets of social relationships within the family–primarily with the parents, and barely with sibs. The research while recognizing the importance of the earliest relations, also recognizes that the course of life brings us into important and motivating contact with others, with whom we try to get along, cooperate, and satisfy needs. With this expanding cast of characters we meet new developmental challenges explore new possibilities, learn new forms of interaction, and perhaps begin to venture into those realms in which prior experience is shrouded in anxiety. New relations, with partners more comfortable with areas of experience that were beyond the scope of previous partners, may offer intimations of security in behaviors and situations where we previously had sensed only impending difficulty. Thus life brings the potential of expanding experience, competence, opportunities and motives. These potentials do not at all deny the strength of early self-formation and the power of anxiety to lead us to keep replicating habitual behaviors, but the potentials do suggest that habit is not necessarily the end of the story. Personal development, social development and family planning record mean scores (standard deviations) of 2.45 (0.54), 3.01 (0.65), and 2.01 (1.63) respectively. Other than recording the least mean score, family palling records the largest standard deviation of 1.63 indicating divergent case responses from the participants studied. Personal development is however more uniform across the participants as evidenced by the least standard deviation recorded. Though, slightly higher, the standard deviation for social development is rather small indicating more uniform responses across the participating group.

In development influences on life organization, the trend is almost as similar as satisfaction. Family, friends and personal aspects top the list of organizational influences to personal development. However, other factors also play a critical though limiting role as illustrated in the table earlier presented in the results section.


In conclusion, it’s important to mention person’s development is a product of various factors. As summarized by the research, a number of factors affect such including social, personal and family among others. Like Vygotsky, the result shows an optimistic potential for learning and growth. Sullivan, however, does not see that growth as necessarily easy, as we must constantly face the anxiety of those things that stretch us beyond that which we are comfortable with. This discomforting anxiety makes it difficult to see what lies in front and around us and leads us to want to turn our eyes and thoughts elsewhere, back to the worlds we are comfortable in, where we find a familiar self-definition and perception, in interactions where both ourselves and our partners are secure. Further, in participating in growth-oriented relationships, we must not only have others be persuaded of and appropriate the innovations we create as useful to their own ends, as in the Vygotskian world, but we must also address the resistances of their anxieties, uncertainties, terrors, and senses of where self-security lies. This way can provide us means to see why development may be so difficult, why we may resist and struggle with some modes of expression, why we find some audiences easier to address than others. At the same time Sullivan provides an account of the enormous possibilities of self-formation, expansion, discovery, reflection, and growth that people regularly report associated with social interactions. And he allows us to see these issues not just as individuals in isolation struggling with individual genius or blindness, but as social-communicative issues of the difficulties and rewards of integrating with others as part of social projects.

The research increases awareness standard deviations acknowledge the particularity of each persons history, relations, communicative patterns, and anxiety systems along with the particularity of each set of social relations and the particularity of each set of events which motivates communicative action, should warn against assuming a simple, single pathway to writing. Instead he attunes us to the individual path each person must struggle through in learning to use language, in expanding through the constraints of anxiety, in fulfilling personal need and motive through literate action.


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Mean scores (and standard deviations) of 22 developmental tasks for 89 students

Item Mean (Standard Deviation)
Personal development: 2.45 (0.54)
  • Able to balance your current commitments with your study
2.30 (0.95)
  • Living life the way you want
2.61 (0.82)
  • Accept yourself the way you are
2.70 (0.92)
  • Handling the pressure of the university course
2.35 (0.84)
  • Putting effort into your studies
2.61 (1.01)
  • Living up to your parents’ expectations
2.36 (0.99)
  • Interact with your parents as an equal
2.75 (0.92)
  • Ask your parents for emotional support when things go wrong
1.97 (1.43)
  • Do not find it difficult taking responsibility for your own well being (Rev item)
1.26 (1.02)
  • Do not feel under constant pressure (Rev item)
1.83 (1.03)
  • Do not have a lifestyle that puts your health at risk (Rev item)
2.87 (0.94)
  • Do not find it difficult to balance your personal and career priorities (Rev item)
2.35 (1.15)
Social development: 3.01 (0.65)
  • Ask your friends to emotional support when things go wrong
2.75 (0.98)
  • Able to make compromises for the sake of a friendship
2.87 (0.88)
  • Providing support for your friends
3.13 (0.83)
  • Have close friendships with people your own age
3.29 (0.86)
Family Planning 1.79 (0.78)
  • Planning your career to fit in a family
1.52 (1.40)
  • Planning to start a family
1.15 (1.22)
  • Able to make compromises for the sake of a romantic relationship
2.37 (1.06)
  • Committed to a long-term romantic relationship
2.01 (1.63)
  • Sure of your choice of career
1.94 (1.33)
  • Financially independent of your parents (Reversed item)
1.73 (1.25)
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